Jamie Mitchell Finds Perfection In Round One Of The Puerto Escondido Challenge
Making uneasy look breezy.
Puerto Escondido awoke this morning to a high dose of swell, offshore winds, make-able corners, but mostly death closeouts. No other beachbreak in the world can hold the amount of swell that Puerto does; it’s impressive, it’s hollow, has a mean closeout section and watching little men wiggle into brown caverns makes for a good watch… it didn’t live up to the event at Ours, but let’s face it, no big wave event besides Jaws will. Surfing massive waves without a barrel is a feat in itself, but from the safety of your television or computer screen: if there’s no tunnel the magic of the action fades. And after the Pe’ahi Challenge and the perilous heroics of the Cape Fear event, the level for an entertaining big wave event is higher than anyone could have conceptualised.
The first heat saw relatively smaller surf (20-25-foot faces). Greg Long who spends the majority of his summer in Oaxaca, pulled into two of the biggest caves of the heat; the first on his forehand. Later in the round he snagged a left, grabbed rail, held on tight, set his line and came out as the wave gradually shrunk in size. Mr Long set the precedent for the day: the unmake-able would be challenged and the gents were gonna swing in deep… Puerto in general isn’t a great wave, it’s more of a phenomena than anything… Shane Dorian, who’s mysteriously absent from the event is famous for stating on a big day at Puerto: there’s only one good wave ridden. On that note, where the hell’s Mark Healey? He’s a sheer lunatic out at Puerto, he has the biggest wave ever paddled at Puerto award, which is less of an award and more of just something that happened. Ian Walsh is also missing from the first big wave stop. We spoke a few days back, he had prior obligations… probably, hopefully something financially more lucrative than pulling into murderous closeouts… but less entertaining as a viewer.
Kai Lenny continues to prove he’s one of the world’s best in the heavy stuff. He whipped into an impossible right in the first heat, pumped his way into the closeout then had the pleasure of taking the next few waves on the head. Surely he was underwater, stacking imaginary legos – because that’s what he does – until Puerto gave him the courtesy of reacquainting with the surface. Albee Layer found a few closeouts and one make which sent him, along with Greg and Kai into the semifinals.
In heat two, Will Skudin tacked up the highest wave total. But local wildcard, Rogercin Ramirez, found the wave of the heat; it was a massive left hander. At a wave as shifty and unpredictable as Puerto, local knowledge prevails. Two local wildcards advance into the semis; Mr Ramirez will be joined by Jimel Corzo, who placed second in heat four. Grant “Twiggy” Baker, Billy Kemper and Damien Hobgood all had their fair share of heavy exchanges and effervescent closures. When the buzzer rang, Will, Rogercin and Twig advanced into the semis.
Heat three was taken by former BWT champ, Makuakai Rothman, who arguably scrapped into the day’s biggest. He didn’t find a barrel but the thing was mountainous enough to give him a 9.5. “This is my second time to Mexico and the waves are really fun,” Makua told the WSL. “I was just in the right place at the right time. I am not thinking about the end result. I am just thinking about my first wave tomorrow morning and hopefully I am in the right spot.” Then he added: “The local boys charge.” The Brazilian duo Pedro Calado and Carlos Burle both acquired waves in the excellent range and placed another local wildcard, Angelo Lozano, out of a semifinal shot. If the BWT didn’t implement the doubling of the highest scored wave per heat, Angelo would have advanced. However, in a typical big wave session, there are only a handful of “excellent” waves ridden. The good ones are hard to come by. So in a 75 minute heat, if you’re able to find one in the handful, you deserve to have that score doubled.
Round four was all about Jamie Mitchell. He had the two most critical waves of the day. His first was a perfect ten; he went left, drew out his bottom turn on his backhand, grabbed his rail and tucked into the almond barrel above him. He surfed the wave without flaw. Where most would have taken a bone rattling lip to the head, Jamie snuck in and came out unblemished. He capped it off by going right and pumping three times through a traveling closeout for a 9.03. “I feel my wave selection was strong,” said Jamie, who recently entered fatherhood, after his heat. “That ten got me exactly where I wanted to be and it felt good. I feel like my super gnarly competitive career is behind me. I want my family around, my daughter and my partner. I give them a kiss goodbye and I go out have fun. I’ve never been in a better place in my life.”
On a side note, David Stansfield and Strider Wasilewski are the epitome of “over froth”. And while commentating surfing is a harder job than it’s perceived to be (too much down time), the combination of their voices is like eavesdropping on an audition for narrator of World’s Wildest Police Videos, Extreme Weather or When Animals Attack (I’m assuming the last two are actual shows…). But hell, it was going “off the record charts”, they were “making history”, “surfing under the gun” and the waves were “mondo”. Oh, and in case you didn’t hear: “it was a historical event!”.
Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Greg Long 20.01, Albee Layer 12.83, Kai Lenny 12.66, Gabriel Villaran 9.56, Jose Ramirez 8.77, Koa Rothman 6.46
Heat 2: Will Skudin 22.07, Grant Baker 21.33, Rogercin Ramirez 20.73, Billy Kemper 18.87, Damien Hobgood 18.23, Coco Nogales 11.01
Heat 3: Makuakai Rothman 26.80, Pedro Calado 25.07, Carlos Burle 23.56, Angelo Lozano 23.27, Trevor Carlson 16.93, Tom Lowe 12.74
Heat 4: Jamie Mitchell 29.03, Jimel Corzo 24.43, Rusty Long 23.84, Cristian Merello 21.34, Nic Lamb 14.13, Oscar Moncada 7.00
Semifinal 1: Greg Long, Albee Layer, Kai Lenny, Will Skudin, Grant Baker, Rogercin Ramirez
Semifinal 2: Makuakai Rothman, Pedro Calado, Carlos Burle, Jamie Mitchell, Jimel Corzo, Rusty Long
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